Handbagged – review

Tricycle, London
Moira Buffini speculates gleefully on what took place between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher at those weekly teas

Throughout her 11 years in office, Margaret Thatcher sat down on a weekly basis with the Queen to discuss the matters of the day over tea. These were private conversations: we can only speculate about what was said. In her boisterous account of this supposedly difficult relationship, Moira Buffini speculates gleefully, but with a safety valve. She has an older version of each personage on hand to dispute contentious statements – "I never said that!" – and complicate the general perspective on events.

Also on hand to complicate perspective are a parade of figures from the period – Kenneth Kaunda, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Michael Heseltine – all played by two hard-working actors, Neet Mohan and Jeff Rawle. They help enliven what is, at root, a two-hour history lesson and add a meta-theatrical dimension, by juggling roles in full view of the audience. The self-referential business is played mostly for laughs – overplayed, at times – but comedy affords Buffini the latitude she needs to get close to this most intriguing double act. Both sides of the coin, as the Queen puts it here, deserve praise for their portrayals: Fenella Woolgar and Stella Gonet as Mags and the older T; Clare Holman and Marion Bailey as Liz and Q.


Killian Fox

The GuardianTramp

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